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Bachelor’s degrees are not coming to Los Rios District

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Heather Kemp, Staff Writer

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California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 850 into effect on Sept. 28, allowing community colleges in the state to offer 4-year college degrees.

The bill will allow pilot programs to offer bachelor’s degrees starting in the 2017-18 school year and last until 2024, according to California Legislative Information website. One campus per community college district is allowed to participate in the pilot program.

Los Rios Community College District is one district that will not be participating in the program.

“While the Los Rios District supported SB 850, the District and its four colleges currently have no plans to participate in the pilot program to be one of 15 community college districts to offer a BA program or degree,” said Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications and Media Relations Mitchel Benson in an email interview.

Some students think it would be beneficial for Los Rios to offer bachelor’s degrees.

“I think it would be a great opportunity for students that can’t afford to go to a higher institution,” said 20-year-old electrical engineering major Raul Valdez. “It would be a great opportunity for anybody who can go to community college to get that kind of education.”

While some students are having a hard time rectifying why Los Rios would not want to offer bachelor’s degrees to their students, the district has reasons why they are not interested.

“The Los Rios colleges are focusing on expanding our Associate Degree for Transfer program,” Benson said. “Working to ensure that more majors are available, that more students participate and that more of those students successfully complete the program and transfer to four-year programs at the state universities.”

While getting a bachelor’s degree at either a four-year or two-year will hold the same value in regards to students occupational future, they come at a higher price at University of California and California State Universities.

It is important to point out that the new law sets strict criteria on what sort of BA program a community college district can and cannot offer.”

— Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications and Media Relations Mitchel Benson

While degrees cost roughly $22,000 at CSUs, obtaining a four-year degree from a community college would only cost around $10,500, according to an article from the California Economic Summit.

“I feel like it’s going to cause other students to go to those community colleges that are offering it,” said Charissa Bessemer, 19, a nursing major.

Both Bessemer and Valdez said that they would considering transferring to a different district if their majors were offered.

Currently, 21 other states offer four-year degrees at the community college level, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee.

California community colleges have historically been solely interested in offering technical education and transferring students out to other schools as well as giving associate’s degrees as laid out in the Master Plan for Higher Education 50 years ago, according to the Sac Bee article.

SB 850 is undoubtedly a game changer for the state, but its guidelines for what degrees community colleges can offer as bachelor’s are tricky.

“It is important to point out that the new law sets strict criteria on what sort of BA program a community college district can and cannot offer,” Benson said. “Specifically, the law prohibits participating community college districts from offering any baccalaureate degree programs and program curricula currently offered by any of the universities in the CSU or the UC systems.”

California’s reasons for passing the bill include the state’s need for one million more four-year degrees to remain competitive with other states, the workplace’s need for higher education and the state’s public four-year universities not being able to meet their demand, according to the bill.

The entire program will be repealed on Jan. 1, 2024 if there is no action towards keeping it, according to the California Legislative Information website.

Any four-year degrees being pursued must be completed by July of 2023.

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Bachelor’s degrees are not coming to Los Rios District